The kindness of strangers: A safe place to sleep

It was a long day in rural Texas. We had battled stiff headwinds for 50 miles already and were more than ready to call it a day.

For ten miles we had been searching for a spot to pitch our tent, but Texan roads are known for their vast stretches of miles and miles and more miles of nothing but empty Texan roads with fences on either side of the road.

cycling on windy day

With 5000 miles under our belts, we felt we knew the ropes. We had camped in woods or deserts off the side of the road about 150 nights already, and had never been stuck. There was always a spot for a tent hidden back there somewhere.

Until Texas.

As we wearily pedaled our heavily-laden bicycles along that long, lonely, fence-lined road, we pondered our options. Should we set up our tent in the narrow stretch of grass between the road and the fence? How dangerous would that be? Would we be able to forgive ourselves if – God forbid – a car veered slightly and flattened our tent while our precious children were sleeping?

Mile after mile passed slowly under our wheels. The cold wind whirled around our faces, turning our noses and ears rosy red. Our fingers ached in the near-freezing temperatures.

cycling Texas

Absolutely exhausted, we collapsed onto the side of the road as the sun made its final approach toward the horizon. “I wish a rancher would pull up and invite us to his ranch,” my husband mumbled.

winter cycling“That would be wonderful,” the kids and I mumbled.

Less than a minute later, a big black SUV pulled up beside us. A window came down and a friendly face popped out.

“Where are you going to sleep tonight?” he asked.

“We have no idea,” John replied. “There’s just no place to set up a tent around here.”

“I tell you what,” the rancher replied. “Why don’t you come on back to our ranch? The gate is just up here about half a mile.”

Elated, all four of us piled back on our bikes and set out behind that black car. The rancher unlocked the gate, and we all bounced and jiggled down the rough rocky road back to the ranch house.

And that is how we found ourselves sitting around a table eating an enormous pot of spaghetti with Greg, Marthalynn and their four children.

the kindness of strangers

As we cycled the length of the Americas, there were many times when we were invited in for a warm meal and, sometimes, a soft bed to sleep in.

In the end, we pedaled 17,285 miles through fifteen countries and we learned a thing or two through those miles. Perhaps the most important is that the universe has a way of taking care of us. Somehow – and I can’t even begin to explain how this works – the universe conspires to help you.

Paulo Coelho says that, when you want something, the universe conspires to help you to achieve it. After pedaling to the ends of the world, I have to say I agree with him.

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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5 Responses to The kindness of strangers: A safe place to sleep

  1. Leigh November 10, 2013 at 3:46 am #

    And it was a pleasure having you stay with us in Salta.

    Hard to believe it all started with a few tweets when you were still in Mexico, and we kept in touch the whole way as you drove south.

    Amazing trip!

    • Nancy Sathre-Vogel November 10, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

      @Leigh, I know! When you first wrote and invited us to stay with you in Salta, I had NO clue where it was! By the time we got there, I certainly did. It was great to hang out with you.

  2. Melanie Murrish November 10, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    Just lovely Nancy, I can’t imagine what you were feeling on those long stretches of road; I call people like Greg and Marthalynn real life angels! I also love Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist is one of my faves.

  3. Sue January 13, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    What an inspiring story. I love that the universe conspires to help you.

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